How Do I Know If My Parenting Plan Is in Effect?


If you and your spouse are going through a divorce or separation, the family court in your state may require you to submit a parenting plan before your divorce can be finalized.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a formal written legal document that states how you and your co-parent will share custody, manage visitations, and provide for the physical and emotional care of your children.

In some states, there are specific components to a parenting plan that are required by law. To learn more about what items typically are included in a parenting plan, check out our post, How to make a parenting plan?

Once you and your spouse agree on a parenting plan, you will both sign the plan in front of a notary and submit it to the court. There may or may not be a physical hearing in front of a judge to review your parenting plan.

If the judge feels like you and your spouse have made a parenting plan that focuses on the best interests of the children, and the plan has adequate provisions for adjustments that need to be made in the future, he or she will likely approve it.

Your parenting plan is officially in effect once the judge signs it.

When does my parenting plan go into effect?

Your parenting plan is officially in effect once the judge signs it. That may or may not happen at the hearing. The court will usually process the documentation, obtain the judge’s signature, and file the decree with the Clerk of Courts. The Clerk of Courts will notify you by mail when your decree is entered on the docket.

Once a judge signs your parenting agreement, it is a legally binding document. If you violate the agreement, you may face fines or other penalties.

If you have questions about creating or enforcing a parenting plan, you can talk to the Clerk of Courts in your county or a family law attorney in your area.

Can a co-parenting app make this better?